Most teenagers don’t understand how taxes work. But 14-year-old Ahmed Omer knows taxes are the reason he and his two mates Mickey Imran and Obsa Shafee are able to have a happy and safe life in Tasmania.
The loveable trio have been taking part in JCP Empowering Youth programs. The organisation is a small group of dedicated leaders working to improve young people’s lives through school and community-based seminars and programs.
Now the boys want to show their gratitude and appreciation, so they have started their own program called JCP Giving Back.
For the past week they have travelled around the state. They visited farms on the North-West Coast, worked in a kitchen for the homeless in Devonport, spent the day learning about Aboriginal culture and have donated clothes and housing supplies to those in need.
JCP director Will Smith was overseas when the boys came up with the idea, but could not wait to be a part of their plans.
“We’ve been working with Will for eight months now. He has taken us on camps and we’ve done lots of activities with him,” Ahmed said.
“We said ‘now is the time to do something’. We said we want to come up with a project and we named it Give Back.”
The boys, who are all refugees, were saddened when they heard the discontent surrounding alleged African youth gangs on the mainland and that some people were scared of people with different ethnic backgrounds because they “weren’t doing good things in Australia”.
“We want to do a good thing to change people’s minds,” Ahmed said.
“We want to help people as well, such as homeless people and old people who living in aged care because sometime they don’t have visitors. We want to share their stories and talk with them and make them feel happy.”
The aim of the program was to meet as many people as possible and thank them.
“Everyone pays taxes. And when they did that, the government let us come over as refugees, so we would like to thank every Australian. We want to meet more Australian people and thank them,” Ahmed said.
“We want to grow up and work and pay taxes so we can do something good for Australia as well.”
Obsa Shafee, the youngest of the trio at just 13, said he hoped the program would change perceptions.
“Will always asks us how we’re going to change the world. We’re going to change the world by helping one person, and they’ll go and help another person and they go and help another person and it’ll keep going and the world will change.”
Mr Smith said JCP was just providing the logistics to make the tour happen, with the trio organising the rest.
“Everywhere the boys go they’re inspiring people,” Mr Smith said.
“I am in shock and awe of their program … they’re putting themselves out there doing things that other kids wouldn’t normally do purely because they want to change people’s perception, not only of young refugees and African males which they speak well about, but also because they want to give back to Australia and say thank you for having the opportunity to live here.”